There is no doubt that forests and wood products have a major role to play for sustainable development, preserving biological diversity and dealing with the global climate emergency.
Forests provide essential ecosystem services and are the home for most land-based species on Earth.
Well managed forests are stable reservoirs of carbon and at the same time deliver large quantities of wood for a bio-based economy providing for both welfare and fossil-free development. Ensuring that forests are sustainably managed and used is therefore a key priority.
Forest certification is in this context a success story. As of 2019, about one-third of the wood used in products, packaging or construction is certified as originating from sustainable forest management and supply chains.
Expanding the scope and extending the impact of forest certification
PEFC, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, has been instrumental to this success. With innovations such as group certification, a mechanism that makes certification accessible to small- and family forest owners, PEFC has expanded the accessibility of certification. Today about one million forest owners have obtained PEFC certification.
With its latest sustainable forest management standard, PEFC expanded the scope of certification to include Trees outside Forests, extending the impact of PEFC certification beyond the boundaries of the forest. This innovation can make PEFC certification practical and affordable to farmers or other land managers, who are often growing trees as just one of their many crops.
What are the options of forest certification to improve accessibility, expand scope and increase impact in forest management and beyond?
Certification and Sustainability: from Niche to Mainstream
The 2019 PEFC Stakeholder Dialogue will debate next steps towards moving forest certification from niche to mainstream, as well as how forestry and wood-based products through certification can become more integrated in sustainable development efforts.
In the first of three sessions, the role of forest certification in the marketplace and connections to consumers will be explored. We will hear from major producers of consumer goods representing the traditional frontline for certification, assuring their customers of good and fair forest management. We will also take part of perspectives from the finance sector that increasingly aims for sustainable investments for its clients. This includes pension funds that increasingly act on behalf of all their beneficiaries as major drivers of sustainability.
In the second session, the focus will be on issues and opportunities around the verification of conformity and impact. To what extent is certification speaking to impacts on global level issues, and how does this connect to the day-to-day operations in the local environment. What are the concerns and trade-offs between costs and overall impacts? Are there innovative approaches that can efficiently bring certification to new sets of producers and land owners?
The third and final sessions will bring the issues back to the forest owners and managers. What do the new expectations on forest certification mean for the engagement on the ground? What will the new Trees outside Forests dimension bring to the table? And most importantly, is certification providing the momentum needed for steady improvement and expansion of sustainable forest management?
The 2019 PEFC stakeholder dialogue is set to take sustainable forest management to new levels. This is particularly important in times when we need real and trusted solutions for the climate, biological diversity and sustainable development at large.
Peter Holmgren, Future Vistas Inc.
Mr. Holmgren is a forestry specialist and founder and Senior Adviser of Future Vistas Inc.
He served as Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), and was head of the Global Forest Resources Assessment, and the Climate, Energy, and Tenure division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
He will be the moderator of our Stakeholder Dialogue “Certification and Sustainability: from Niche to Mainstream”.